By Steven Hoffman
The Lighthouse Youth Center in Oxford is much more than a place for youngsters to gather for after-school activities. During the course of a year, the Lighthouse’s staff and volunteers provide tutoring and mentoring services, daily Bible activities, and lessons in music, cooking, and art to approximately 500 children. There are camping trips in the summer, holiday meals at Thanksgiving, and a gathering for youngsters and their parents at Christmastime.
A variety of fundraisers help make all these programs possible and one of the largest is taking place this week. The 25th annual Fall Harvest Dinner & Auction to benefit the Lighthouse Youth Center will take place this Friday and Saturday, Nov. 8 and 9.
“The Oxford community has been very generous to us,” said Buzz Tyson, the director of the Lighthouse Youth Center, as he made final preparations for the event this week.
The auction takes place on Saturday starting at 9 a.m. at the Oxford Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall, which is located at the intersection of routes 472 and 10 in Oxford.
There are dozens of different items featured during the auction—everything from tickets to sporting events to gift certificates to local businesses to themed gift baskets to tools and crafts. A 2008 Chevrolet Impala will be among the top auction items this year. So will a three-night stay in Cape May, New Jersey, a trip to the Mountain Top Retreat, and furniture handcrafted by local Amish. Some local residents are opening up their homes for meals that are being auctioned off.
If you like sports, Philadelphia Eagles tickets, a baseball cap autographed by professional golfer Sergio Garcia, and four greens fees to Ron Jaworski’s signature golf courses are all available. Philadelphia Phillies tickets will also be available.
Nate and Julie Howe, who own a farm, once again offered to donate turkeys for the auction. Lindsey Drennen has donated Case vs. John Deere Cakes. The money raised by this donation will be used to buy new computers for the Lighthouse Youth Center’s homework help station.
A pork roast preview dinner on Friday from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. precedes the auction. Tickets for adults are $15 and children under the age of 8 eat for free. Tyson said that the meal usually draws about 600 people.
“It’s a big community event,” Tyson explained. “A lot of people come just to see their friends. There is time for fellowship.”
This fundraiser is one of the highlights of the year for Tyson. The proceeds of the dinner and auction will be used for programming at the youth center throughout the year.
“We’re trying to raise $45,000,” Tyson said of the fundraiser. Last year’s event generated about $50,000 in proceeds.
“If we go over our goal that just allows us to offer more programs for the youngsters,” Tyson said.
One of the rapidly expanding programs, Tyson said, is the meal program which now serves between 70 and 100 children a day.
The Lighthouse Youth Center also launched a girls’ mentoring program earlier this year where volunteer mentors in the community are matched up with girls to help them with schoolwork or talk to them about peer pressure or any other issues that the youngsters are facing.
“We want to encourage the young ladies to become leaders in the community as women,” Tyson explained.
The Lighthouse hosts a “learning hour” during which children can focus on completing their homework assignments. They are have a college and career night planned for Tuesday, Nov. 19. On Nov. 26, children and their parents are invited to a Thanksgiving meal. Christmas gifts are handed out to the youngsters during the Christmas party as well.
Tyson said that these offerings are only made possible through successful fundraisers like the dinner and auction.
This is a big year for the Lighthouse Youth Center. In addition to marking its 25th anniversary, plans are taking shape for the construction of a new, larger youth center. They still need to raise about $300,000 for the $2.4 million project. Tyson said that they are making good progress in securing all the necessary approvals for the project and expect to start moving dirt on the new property sometime this month. The target is for a fall 2014 opening.
For more information about the auction or to purchase tickets for the dinner, call 610-932-4883 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.